The proposal has come under Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) scrutiny because it would result in the Dutch brewer owning 3,000 UK pubs. This has prompted various trade bodies to raise concerns that a giant brewing pubco owning a substantial number of sites could restrict choice for customers and licensees.
However, licensees at 112 Star Pubs & Bars sites wrote to the CMA to say Punch tenants would have “nothing to fear” from the bid, which is backed by investment firm Patron Capital.
In the letter, written by Star licensee Iain Pert on behalf of the group, the licensees said the takeover would be positive for the industry, Punch tenants and pub goers. “Star Pubs and Heineken have a passion for great pubs and bars,” it said.
Compelled to take action
Pert, who runs five Star pubs including the Jolly Botanist in Edinburgh, told The Morning Advertiser that he felt compelled to take action after seeing CAMRA, the British Pub Confederation and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association raise concerns about the deal.
“I wanted to get across that this is a good company and the Punch licensees were not about to be taken over by the big bad wolf.
“I asked my business development manager to put my letter out there to the other BDMs to see what the response would be. I was surprised by how many licensees then wanted to sign the letter,” he said.
Part of the CMA’s investigation centres on the potential reduction in consumer choice when Heineken completes the deal.
Pert said that his experience as a Star tenant was that he had not felt limited on what drinks he could offer.
“We get a big list of ales every week that we can get from different parts of the UK and we've found they have some cracking brands.”